The Fortified Landscape of Isfahan

in Eurasian Studies
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Abstract

This article presents an exposition of the fortifications around Isfahan based on fieldwork and a thorough analysis of written sources and the available satellite images, processed with new GIS technologies. The fortress of Šāhdiz, of Ismaili fame, is well known and documented in the written sources, however the major conclusion of the current research is that in fact a network of fortifications was developed, strategically located to afford observation and communication. The heights surrounding Isfahan were exploited to full potential, gaining security over roads and settlement processes, which in turn contributed to urban growth. The evolution of this network conformed with the trends of urbanisation: as long as the main towns remained Qih and Jayy, it was the mountains in the east of the rustāq of Isfahan that played the decisive role. But from the fourth/tenth century onward, with the growth of Yahūdiyya and the integration of the southern province of Fars and Khuzistan in the Buyid and Saljuq polities, it was the fortified of sites in the mountainous areas south of Zāyanda-rūd that were key to securing the access roads.

The Fortified Landscape of Isfahan

in Eurasian Studies

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    Road links between central Isfahan province and main cities of Iran, according to early Islamic geographers.
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    Topography of central Isfahan province, with fortified sites
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    Fortified sites and pre-modern road network at the centre of Isfahan province
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    Geographical distribution of fortified sites in central part of Isfahan province
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    The city of Isfahan and its surroundings
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    The walls of Sassanid Jayy
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    The walls of Yahūdiyya/Isfahan
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    The site of the fortress of Kūh-i Gavart
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    Water reservoir in the fortress of Qahjāvaristān
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    Fortified sites visible from the top of fortress of Kūh Gavart
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    Visibility from fortified sites east of the rustāq of Jayy
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    Panorama of modern Isfahan from the site of Šāhdiz/KūhṢuffa
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    The fortress of Qalʿa Buzī (ḪānLanjān) above the Zāyanda-rūd
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    Visibility from the fortress of QalʿaBuzī (ḪānLanjān)
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    Remains of fortifications at the highest point of the Qalʿa Saḫtūn
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    Fortifications of Ayvān-i Dīv on the eastern slope of Šāh-kūh
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    Fortifications of Ayvān-i Dīv, detail: wall built inside a natural gap in the mountain
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    Some fortresses visible from the top of the fortress of Qalʿa Kulāh Qāḍī
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    The core of the fortress of Ṣanambar
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    The Určīnī road and its watchtower, close to the modern road opened through the mountain
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    Remains of a paved road, two metres wide, in the Pass of Dih Surḫ
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    Visibility from the fortress of Kūh Ātišgāh
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    The fortified wall in the Kūh ‘Umar Kūh

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